Red Bellied – A Haiku

Red Bellied
by Victoria Nations

Red hair spilling down,
nearly as bright as the red
staining her belly

 

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More horrific goodness is a The Midnight Society’s #SpookyAllYear Blog Hop

 

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#SpookyAllYear

The Midnight Society – a wonderful collection of horror and paranormal writers and literary folk –  is hosting #SpookyAllYear, a blog hop to add a little horror and spooky fun through the year.  And today is the first day!  Folks posting creepy stuff on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month will be linking to their site.  They like their books a little bloody.

I’m by the lake again today, the lake that I keep returning to.  It’s sunlit and lovely, but the rays only go so far into the water, because it is also deep.

Crows are flying over the lake today and calling to each other.  You don’t expect to see crows along a lakeshore.  This one should be the backdrop for majestic wading birds, frozen as they watch the water for fish.  If you’ve watched a blue heron hunt, you know they spear their prey with their sharp beaks, and then gulp them down whole.  If you watch closely enough, you’ll see the creature moving in the bird’s neck as it slowly makes its way down.  What must the bird feel with something alive wriggling in its throat?  What must the prey feel, bleeding to death, as they are swallowed?

The flock of crows means something is dead in the water, just past where I can see.  It’s drifted in, and the crows are cawing to warn me away from their meal.  If I walk a little further down the shore, I will be able to see it.

I imagine seeing a form, long hair trailing around it, turned so I can’t see its face.  Only the head is visible, and an arm, reaching in front of it, the hand floating limply in the water.  The form looks vaguely human, but it’s not.  There’s something wrong with the shape of the head, and the long fingers extending from too small a hand.  Once I see it, I won’t be able to ignore it.

Once I see it, I could walk out into the water to investigate what’s floating there.  The water is shallow, and still warm enough to wade in.  I would be able to see my feet most of the way, until I got close to the floating thing.  But that far from shore, I wouldn’t be able to pull away if something curled around my ankles and pulled me in deeper.  Then there would be two things with long, trailing hair floating in the water.

The crows are warning me away, and I understand that it will only be a mystery until they reach it.  Once they’ve eaten, once all the creatures that eat the dead have eaten, the thing will be gone.

So there is my choice.  Do I walk further down the shore?  Or, do I listen to the crows?

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Running Through The Swamp – Halloween At Last

Happy, happy Halloween!  It’s the finale of my celebration of October and the spooky things that emerge at this time of year.  My Halloween morning was perfect: I spent it running through the woods from zombies and a swamp monster.

mudwalk-swamp witchThe MudWalk is a tradition for elementary school kids in our area.  They visit the Environmental Studies Center and then hike through a mucky swamp.  Someone always loses a shoe, and they have to pull each other across (or out) of the muck.  The Support the MudWalk Spooky 5K started several years ago as a fundraiser.  The route is paved and on a trail, and the trail run is through a haunted forest.

The trail was lined with gravestones and cautionary signs. Ghosts and bats flew overhead.  Creatures emerged from the bushes and zombies swiped at passersby.

mudwalk-spiderwebThe jump scares were pretty mild, and the monsters seemed to like that I was running by them and beaming, just wildly happy that there were so many spooky things on the trail with us.

Tonight will be clear here in Florida.  The ghouls and princesses will be in short-sleeves as they trick or treat.  I’ll be dressed as a bat to fly around the gravestones in the front yard and give out candy.  I hope you have an amazing celebration of your own.  Thank you for spending the Countdown to Halloween with me.

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!  Come join in and find me on the NaNoWriMo site at Leaves and Cobwebs.mudwalk-tombstone

A Monstrous Love – 4 Days Until Halloween

In the movie Crimson Peak, Lucille Sharpe (the dark sister who holds the keys to the family manse) tells the gothic heroine, “It is a monstrous love. And it makes monsters of us all.”  Her version of love is menacing and possibly mad, as the best monsters are.

My favorite monsters pursue their victims with a deliberate and threatening drive.  In a presentation at the Florida Writers Conference, Sidney Williams posited that a monster is only frightening until you see it, and I think this is true.  You know it is there, that it will come, that it is hunting the others. The anticipation is suffocating. You squint into the darkness trying to see if you can make out its silhouette.  You wait behind the door with the gothic heroine, the original final girl, listening hard for its approach, desperately wanting to bolt, trying to hold your breath so you won’t be heard.

You want the monster to find her, so the final girl can face it and survive.  But the monster is never more threatening than right before that breathless moment.

#Arachtober – 5 Days Until Halloween

Florida huntsman spiders hide behind curtains and boxes pushed against the wall.  They’re velvety brown and large, nearly the size of your hand.  Their legs tickle if you let them crawl over your fingers.

You’ll see them when you pull back the shower curtain or move something from under your bed.  But they’ll skitter away, shy around humans.  For every one you see, many more are still hidden.

Throwback Thursday – 9 Days Until Halloween

Dr. Paul Bearer was the host of Creature Feature, a self-declared “horrible old movie” double-feature that aired in the 1970’s and 80’s in the Tampa area.  In my memory, I’m laying on a floor pillow on orange carpet, in the living room of our family cabin, and watching Attack of the Mushroom People with him on a Saturday afternoon.

At commercial breaks, Dr. Paul Bearer brought out ridiculous props and made amazing puns, like his box of “Kellogg’s Mourn Flakes” cereal.  He pretended to play Poisoning Pigeons in the Park by Tom Lehrer on his grand piano.  He was brilliant.

Quiet Horror – 12 Days Until Halloween

I grew up reading Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, and I still adore them. Some day their language is overblown, but I love how their lavish descriptions overwhelm me. Their stories are more horrifying for how they make me feel crushed beneath moldering walls and surrounded by alien angles.  Something monstrous is usually threatening to overtake their narrators, and I hold my breath waiting for it to come.

When I see old buildings, their windows covered, my mind runs with the possibilities of what could be lurking behind them.  The buildings may be abandoned, but somehow they don’t seem empty.  I want to see the curtain twitch.  I want to see a shadow move behind them.

One of the presentations by Sidney Williams at the Florida Writers Conference was on quiet horror, those stories with a feeling of creeping terror.  It’s the form of horror fiction that I love to write (and read).  I want a reader to sense something is off, something wrong is happening. They’ll sense something is waiting for them to come closer, but they won’t be able to identify it in time. The unknown, the inability to escape, will make it even scarier.

Haunting The Yard – 19 Days Until Halloween

Last year, a little girl in a princess costume walked down my driveway on Halloween with her mom trailing behind her.  The little girl was transfixed by the orange lights and spooky decorations.  Her mom was looking around nervously.

“Nothing here will jump out at her,” I told the mom from the candy table.

“Really?”  My skull face was friendly, but the mom was making sure.

“Absolutely.  There’s a lots of creepy things around, but nothing too gruesome, and she can walk up and look at anything she wants.”

The little girl turned to me then, so I spoke to her, too.

“You can touch anything you want.  It’s Halloween, and spooky stuff is supposed to be fun.”

The little girl smiled and looked around, eager to explore. But she turned back to ask, “Can I see your dress, too?”

I stepped out from around the table to show her my whole outfit of black gown and corset of skulls and roses.  She smiled again and walked off to explore the decorations. The mom brought over her trick-or-treat bag for candy, but the little girl was much more interested in seeing the skulls and plastic rats up close.

yard gravesI love creating a spooky yard.  Classically  creepy decor is my favorite.  Give me bats and crows and skeletons.  I have my favorite horror icons, but the only movie star you’ll see in my yard is Bela Lugosi as Dracula.

The graveyard is on a small hill in the front of the yard and includes markers for Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.  There are skeletons here and elsewhere.  Many of the lady skeletons have wigs and dresses befitting their elegant style.

yard pumpkinsBats and other flying creatures hang from the pergola by the door.  Rats and birds perch on either side of the walkway.  Closer to Halloween, real jack-o-lanterns will join the pumpkin vine trailing along the walk.

Halloween is a time to delight in spooky things and the delicious feeling that something supernatural may appear before you.  It’s a time to revel in the macabre and the dark aesthetic I love.  And it’s a time to share this with neighbors and trick-or-treaters lured to the house by odd creatures and haunting music.  Hopefully they’ll leave loving the mystery and celebration of Halloween even more.

Bob